Old wounds. Colton Underwood admitted he was “numb for days” after his split from Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman. The pair started dating in fall 2016 but had a devastating breakup the following summer. Of course, Colton went on to meet his current girlfriend, Cassie Randolph, as the lead of season 23 of The Bachelor. However, his heartbreak with Aly was still very real. 

“Aly FaceTimed me and ended our relationship,” the 28-year-old recalled in his new book The First Time. “I pulled over to the side of the road, stunned and unable to comprehend this was happening … Afterward, I sat in my car and cried. I was numb for days.” The gold-medal winner, 25, told her beau at the time that “she felt overwhelmed, confused and in need of a break.”

Colton Underwood Wears Blue Tux With Ex Girlfriend Aly Raisman in Orange Off the Shoulder Dress at Golden Globes Afterpary 2017
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

The brunette beauty needed space, but that did not make it easy for Colton to get closure on their relationship. “I reached out to Aly several times without getting any response to my calls or texts,” the Bachelor Nation star continued. “I called Aly’s best friend, Simone Biles, hoping she could offer an explanation or insight. She couldn’t. She was also surprised. Left without any answers or information, I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. I went for long runs and replayed conversations in my head, wondering if I’d said or done anything wrong.”

At the time of their split, Aly was privately dealing with the aftermath of the sexual assault she experienced from former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced in June 2018 to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting hundreds of women. The Massachusetts native has not only become an advocate for victims of sexual assault, but she also faced her abuser in court

Colton knew about her experience and explained that the internal struggle before publicly speaking about the horrors she faced weighed heavily on the Olympian. “I made it a point to listen rather than ask too many questions. Any details would have to come from Aly whenever she was ready to share them, and she was still figuring out what and how much she was comfortable sharing with me, never mind strangers,” he wrote. “She debated with herself whether to speak out publicly. (She didn’t until later that year.) Just watching her go through that was painful. Her struggle with what had happened and the deep pain of the violation to her body and spirit and ability to trust only intensified as the case against Nassar took over the news.”

Although their relationship lasted less than a year, the reality star fell hard for Aly. He even told her that he loved her for the first time just one month into their romance. “In the middle of October [2016], I flew to Chicago to see Aly … and I found myself saying the L-word for the first time,” he recalled. “I was driving, and Aly turned up the radio and held my hand. We had been together for only about a month, but our closeness felt good and natural.” He divulged that they were in their “own little bubble” and “enjoying the vibe.”

Aly leaned then said she loved Ne-Yo, in reference to the song playing on the radio, but Colton “heard her say something else.” “I let those amazing words and the sweet sound of her voice as she said them travel from my ears through my brain and into my heart,” he gushed. “As they did, they painted my entire being a bright shade of awesome. Only a moment or two passed before I squeezed her hand and made sure she knew I felt the same way: ‘I love you, too.’” While the Colorado native marinated in the special moment, Aly gave him “an expression of surprise” and “maybe fear.” The athlete later told him that she “wasn’t quite there,” but she eventually dropped the L-bomb for the first time in February 2018. 

“Maybe it should’ve been funny. It’s kind of funny to me now. It was definitely awkward. But there are far worse things in life than telling someone you love them,” reality stud admitted about the situation.

Now, Colton is head over heels for Cassie, but his relationship with Aly obviously holds a very special place in his heart.